Observations & Critique: Excessive version 1 accessories for an inferior version 1 toy
Note, this is a VERSION 1 accessory and is not compatible with ‘renewal’ version VF-25 toys (which are vastly superior to these original offerings).
Bandai’s approach to the Version 1 Tornado Parts was clunky. There were a few ways you could obtain a Tornado Messiah Valkyrie. The first option was to buy the standalone Tornado Parts as a Tamashii Web Exclusive (TWE) for use with your existing VF-25F toy. They came in a brown shipper box with a two-tone retail-esque box inside. Within that box was:
1) The atmospheric version of the Tornado Parts
2) The display stand (SMS base and arm)
3) Display stand adapters for each mode, including a large back brace for GERWALK mode
4) Gerwalk mode support cradle and braces (three parts)
The parts that look like they’re more specifically meant for space-use were absent.
If you did not own your own VF-25F toy already, you could instead spring for the giftset. The giftset comes in a basic box (36 x 22 x 16 cm) made of thin paper adorned with dark photos of the toy. The box contains all the Tornado parts listed above as well as a VF-25F toy with all the standard accessories including:
7) Gun attachment piece
9) 3x pairs of fixed posed hands
Color instructions are included and cover both the base toy and the Tornado part installation. Like the standalone Tornado Part accessory, Bandai excluded the exo-atmospheric components of the Tornado parts so that they could sell you another Tamashii Web Exclusive set of parts.
To complete your Tornado parts, whether you bought the VF-25F giftset or the first accessory to dress-up an existing VF-25F toy, you needed to purchase the “Powered Weapon Set for VF-25 Tornado/Armored”. As another TWE item, these were delivered in a brown shipper box. Inside was a black-and-white retail box (21 x 22 x 4 cm) in the standard V1 VF-25 style heavy with lots of picture of the toy and parts. This set includes:
1) 4x Reaction missiles
2) 2x Missile pylons
3) 4x Tornado wingtip booster extensions
4) 2x Reaction missile brackets for Tornado Parts
5) 2x Reaction missile brackets for Armor Parts
This odd mix of Tornado parts and Armored parts was Bandai’s way of pushing their “Mix and match the armors!” strategy to try to increase sales of all the accessories. Since the armor was never mixed and matched in the show, the concept never took off.
The final method for acquiring Tornado parts was to purchase the final V1 VF-25 release, Michael’s Tornado VF-25G. Bandai was likely deep in the development of the YF-29 toy at this point and knew that the slough of improvements there would mean a new VF-25 and the demise of these pitiable version 1 efforts. With no expectation of more TWE accessory packs, Bandai finally included all the Tornado Parts, atmospheric and space, in one place… without the reaction missiles. You get everything included in Alto’s VF-25F Tornado Set as well as these items specific to the VF-25G:
10) Sniper rifle
11) 2x attachment parts for the sniper rifle in fighter mode
You also received the following items previously only available in the Powered Weapon Set:
12) 2 missile pylons
13) 4x Tornado wingtip booster extensions
The instructions were expanded to include these parts as well rather than adding a second instruction booklet. Sadly, the display stand lost its paint apps on this release.
Want to get your hands on Bandai’s DX Version 1 Tornado Parts for Version 1 DX VF-25 toys? Here’s a list of relevant release dates and prices:
Tornado VF-25F Alto Custom, March 2010, 17,000 Yen
Tornado Parts for VF-25 Alto, August 2010, 5,250 Yen tax inclusive
Powered Weapons Set for Tornado VF-25F Alto, October 2010, 2,625 Yen tax inclusive
Tornado VF-25G Michael Custom, February 2011, 19,500 Yen
By October 2010 the sentiment for these toys had cooled considerably. The Tornado Parts are not featured prominently in the show, just the movie version retelling of the show, so they didn’t have the broadest appeal.
In this article, we’re focusing on the Tornado Parts and not the underlying VF-25 toys. That said, one of the strengths of the Tornado parts in fighter mode is that they conceal many of the faults of the underlying version 1 toys. One fault they can not hide, particular to the VF-25G, is that version 1 toys can’t have Michael’s sniper rifer installed and sit on the landing gear in fighter mode. So, if you want to show that big gun beneath your bird, you’re going to need to use the included display stand (I’m told that the included display was painted, mine is only black, probably because someone swapped it before I bought it secondhand). Fighter is the ONLY mode I would ever use for displaying these parts but there’s one major issue that may be hard for some people to overcome: for these parts to attach properly, the wings need to be left at an upward cant of about 15 degrees. This angle ruins the lines of fighter where everything comes together at the wing hinge.
The painted-on detail is better than average and something Bandai has continually done well with their Macross releases. One error that popped up continually throughout Bandai’s Macross Frontier toys was “SMS” becoming “SWS” when painted on the right side of the vehicle. This error is present on the exterior leg armor of the Tornado parts. Fortunately, the typo is obscured by the wing-mounted engine in fighter mode and less obvious in other modes where the text is vertical.
When going for the atmospheric look, the cavities on the wing boosters are shallow, black painted spaces. If these are traditional engines, much deeper cavities leading to an intake fan would have been a large improvement.
Adding the “space parts” or “powered weapons” pushes the toy toward over-powered 1990s side-scrolling shooter territory. That’s not a complaint, and it’s a comparison I would also make of the armored VF-25 toys. The missile details in the pylons looks a little silly, like a red pineapple, but they are in stowed at such an angle it’s unlikely anyone would ever be looking directly at them. The missile bay doors conceal the hinges nicely but they don’t slide well so use caution when trying to work the doors open. When gearing your vehicle for space-use, the line-art shows the ports on the cannons in their open position. It’s nice that Bandai included these ports but they could have used a splash of paint underneath.
It’s unlikely you’ll leave your toy in GERWALK mode with the Tornado parts on for reasons we’ll discuss more in the design section. Even if the toy were enjoyable to handle in this mode, the end result LOOKS unbalanced due to the very busy top half of the toy. If you don’t use the display stand, the toy’s back will droop. Even with the brace and the display stand, the wings will also droop downward in GERWALK and may prove to be a durability concern. The underlying VF-25 toy also doesn’t have knees nor hips that allow for an aggressive GERWALK stance so the toy looks unnatural at all times. Fun fact, this toy is so bad in GERWALK mode that the Powered Weapons Set box and instructions don’t show a single instance of the toy in that mode.
Battroid mode with Tornado Parts may handle better than the GERWALK mode but it’s worse looking. There’s too much kibble on the wings and the toy looks back-loaded, like it’s carrying around armor that’s bigger than it is.
Like the underlying V1 VF-25, these parts eventually received a total overhaul under the ‘renewal’ line. The renewal version parts are superior in all respects. See my separate review of those renewal version VF-25 for more specifics.
From a design perspective, these parts were set up to fail by being additions to the version 1 DX VF-25 toys which had numerous faults that were exacerbated by the slightest addition of weight and a lack of forethought. Nice touches include:
1) Parts that stay on the toy securely (excluding the back of arm armors)
2) Pivoting cannons that also rotate left/right and have opening panels (two on each cannon)
3) Pivoting wing-mounted engines
4) Articulated exhaust nozzles on wing-mounted engines
5) Opening missile bays (on space equipment pylons)
No, these parts aren’t ‘perfect transformation’. On the underlying toy, you need to remove the shield to go from fighter to GERWALK. With the Tornado Parts installed, you’ll need to remove the back armor to get to the shield to remove it but that’s only a minor inconvenience. To make the parts work in GERWALK mode you need a brace. To go to battroid mode you’ll remove the brace and pop off the armor behind the head momentarily to free the head lasers.
You’ll want to make use of the included display stand but you can have the toy sitting on the landing gear with sufficient ground clearance with the Tornado parts installed. One minor complaint is that the rear landing gear are very difficult to open once the leg armors have been installed. If you know you want the toy on its landing gear, it’s best to open them before or while installing the leg armors.
The primary negatives are that the toy can’t handle these parts in GERWALK or Battroid modes. Gerwalk mode on a naked V1 VF-25 toy is a debacle, once you start adding armor it becomes egregious. You do get a cradle and two brace parts to make it possible but don’t bother, transform the toy back to fighter. If you insist on having it in GERWALK mode, use the included display stand.
The long armor that runs down the toy’s spine has an extending gimmick. I don’t know the ‘in universe’ reason for this but in the toy world, this extension creates a tripod effect that supports the weight on the back of the toy. Even so, to say the toy struggles when not using a display stand is an understatement and in many cases, the stand will be necessary. Though the central extension piece doesn’t interfere with the display stand entirely, it does rest awkwardly against the display stand arm.
Adding the missile pylons and the forward tops to the wing boosters only adds more heft and further destabilizes GERWALK and Battroid modes. The pylon bays being open does look good in Battroid mode. The big plus is that all of these parts mount securely, even the reaction missiles, and can handle being whooshed around in fighter mode. As mentioned above, the only parts I found problematic were the arm armors. The V1 toys didn’t incorporate arm armor mounting points into the arm so Bandai required you to angle the forearm to create a gap the arm armor can pinch into.
I own two sets of these parts (Alto & Michael) and the Michael versions did display a troubling build quality issue. When the wing parts are installed the seam at the leading edge splits open creating a gap. It’s possible this is an issue from the factory but it’s also possible that something snapped internally after a few installs. Either way, this is something to keep an eye out for when shopping second-hand. There are some thin hinges involved with the bays in the pylons, so use caution with those. The bigger durability concern will be the long-term consequences of leaving this extra weight on a toy that doesn’t seem well suited to support it. The V1 Armored Parts have a nasty tendency of breaking V1 VF-25 toys when left on and I wouldn’t be surprised if people had similar issues with these parts though I haven’t seen any mention of it. The slight upward angle of the wings in fighter and GERWALK modes reduces the strain on the wing hinge and may assist in longevity.
This accessory had limited appeal and that appeal was further diminished with the advent of Bandai’s ‘renewal’ line of VF-25 toys. If you have the funds, you should not consider purchasing anything in the V1 line unless you are a true completist. If you must collect version 1 toys for some reason, and you don’t mind leaving your toy in fighter mode, then the Tornado VF-25 with or without the space equipment is a great look, it hides numerous weaknesses of the V1 toy’s fighter mode.
Original Post: December 2, 2010
May 5, 2015 included information about ‘renewal’ releases
January 19, 2020 expanded to include both Powered Weapons and Tornado Parts. Added higher resolution photos.